Meredith Meredith

All articles by Meredith

 

Goodbye — For Now

My very first Say Hola Lola post (actually it was called Live Love Travel Souls back then) was over six years ago. Never did I imagine this little ole’ blog would mean so much to me. It became a place to inspire, divulge, vent, relive, accept and document what has been the most rewarding yet one of the most challenging times in my life. I shared pieces of my life that probably belonged in a diary — not out in public, but I wanted to be real. I wanted parents of children with special needs to know they were not alone. But more importantly, I wanted to show that life does go on. And that life, while different than what you had expected, is full of love, happiness,...
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Why Lola Won’t Be Going to School This Year

Today is the first day of school for kids going to the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI). Lola would normally be waking up at 5:45 a.m. I’d be trying to get her to eat a little something before her long ride to ISBVI. She’d wait patiently outside, knowing the bus would be coming to pick her up soon. She’d ride with her friends and listen contently as her bus driver, Terri, and bus monitor, Toshua, sang to her. She’d be greeted at ISBVI by familiar faces and welcoming voices. She’d know she was back to her pre-summer routine. But today Lola is sleeping in. We will still rush around because nothing is more chaotic than corralling two young kids in the morning. We will...
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Grateful For This New Normal

“Since these episodes aren’t seizures, that means Lola hasn’t had a clinical seizure since she was a baby,” I said to my husband last night. He agreed and we both sat silent for a minute. Just let that sink in. No clinical seizures in more than five years. How incredibly lucky we are to be able to say those very words. We say clinical meaning seizures that are actually visible. A past EEG showed her to be having subclinical seizures as she was sleeping, but the last two EEGs did not detect those subclinicals. What is most fascinating is that we have no idea what a clinical seizure would even look like, if Lola were to have one. The type of seizures she had as a baby were...
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Well, That’s Surprising News

It’ll be two years in August since Lola showed her first sign of a clinical seizure — at least we thought it was a seizure. We had just left the dentist’s office and Lola was still recovering from the trauma of the appointment. I noticed her exhibiting some very strange behavior through my rear-view mirror. She hadn’t had a seizure in a couple of years, but like any parent of a child with epilepsy, I was always prepared for when that seizure-free streak could end. I pulled over and immediately began to videotape the episode which you will see below. I sent it on to Lola’s neurologist and while she wasn’t fully convinced it was a seizure, rather than having Lola endure yet another EEG, we put her...
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I Run 4 Lola

“I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them.” This quote was on a meme that runner, Tim Boyles, shared online. A man named, Michael, who has Down Syndrome, saw the meme and replied, “You can run for me anytime!” And from that exchange, the idea for I Run 4 Michael came to fruition. I Run 4 Michael is a non-profit organization that matches athletes of all levels with individuals who have special needs. The athlete dedicates their workout (whether it be a jog, a marathon, a swim, a bike ride or whatever) to their buddy. Many times the athletes find great inspiration...
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Here’s Why I Hate You, Seizures

I feel your presence. I know when you are lurking in the background. You are waiting for your opportunity. You wait until a moment when her body is vulnerable, when she is tired, when she is ready to let the world fall at the wayside as she drifts off to sleep. You have her all figured out and yet we know little about you. Except we know when you are coming. Your aura shows itself in two obvious ways. Some days you seem like you are trying so hard to breakthrough that she is literally coming unglued by the tiniest hint of your existence. She is hard to calm. She screams. She hits herself out of frustration. Her behaviors make her father and me prepare. We are extra...
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Lola Needs Your Help!

Dear Friends of Say Hola Lola, One year ago, someone told me about Friendship Circle’s Great Bike Giveaway because she thought Lola would be a good candidate to win an adaptive bike. Well at that time Lola was so close to being able to push the pedals of her small Radio Flyer tricycle that I honestly didn’t think she would need an adaptive bike. I let the idea go. Yet here we are one year later and, unfortunately, Lola still doesn’t have the hang of pedaling a bike. She needs help. She needs help that can only be given to her through the use of an adaptive bike. At school she has an opportunity to ride an adaptive bike which she loves and is able to do so...
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Come Stroll Down Memory Lane – A Birthday Post

Warning! Plethora of pictures! I’m almost a month late with the Lola birthday post, but that seems to be the story of my life lately. Lola turned five-years-old on January 4th and I’m still pinching myself with disbelief! I’ve had so many emotions with this birthday and I can’t seem to figure out why. There’s something about five that says she’s well on her way to school dances, shaving her legs, screaming “I hate you” and everything else teenage-related. All right so I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but she’s getting bigger which scares the hell out of me yet makes me look forward to all of the good stuff that’s just right around the corner. Five years ago, I was afraid for her future. I didn’t...
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Holiday Happiness

Creating a memorable Christmas takes a lot of work. With each Christmas that comes and goes, it seems even more work goes into making the holiday magical, but in all honesty, I love each and every minute of it. With each passing Christmas comes new memories created with traditions that Rob and I are putting into place. As I sit here looking through pictures from the last month, I’m reminded just how special we try to make it for our children. And part of me can’t help but wonder if we aren’t making it special for ourselves as well. Perhaps we are trying to re-create a feeling we miss from our own childhoods. I’ll probably say it year after year, but this Christmas was my favorite thus far...
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Thanksgiving Perspective

I think being a mom of a child with exceptional needs has given me a unique perspective on being thankful. While I’m thankful for all of my blessings on this Thanksgiving, I find that I’m equally as thankful each and every day of the year. It’s nice to have an entire day to ponder the meaning behind gratitude and how it weaves itself into my daily existence because I am indeed very grateful. But as a mother, a wife and, more importantly, a woman, I try to honor the things I’m thankful for all year round…and these two are at the top of that list. Lola has taught me to appreciate in a different way and embrace all that life has to offer. Because I surround myself with...
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Halloween Can Be ‘Tricky’

What a bizarre holiday you are, Halloween. 364 days a year we teach our children not to talk to strangers, not to go up to stranger’s homes and never to take candy from a stranger. Yet on this one day a year, all rules are obsolete. Instead we say, “Hey kids! Go ahead and talk to strangers. Go right up to their homes. And why yes, by all means, eat their candy!” For young children and especially children with special needs — it can be quite confusing. Last year the weather was dreadful in Indianapolis. It was sleeting, it was cold and there was no way I was going to make my then 3-year-old and 10 month old endure Trick-or-Treating. This year I really wanted both Lola and...
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Quease Fall, Don’t Go

“Outside, outside,” says Lola. It’s her new favorite word. It literally emerged from her vocabulary just this week. Up until a few days ago she’d say “bike” which ultimately meant she wanted to go outside. We’ve gotten really good at deciphering meanings behind her words. We used to have to pick up on her communication cues through all other avenues except for language, but she’s starting to use words more predominantly than actions. It’s been nothing short of astounding to witness. She has many more words in her back pocket that seem to appear out of nowhere. Some of them have quite complex meanings behind them and she’s starting to understand that they can be used in multiple scenarios. For example the word “off” — she uses it...
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Comfort, Silence and A Lot of Sleep

Last weekend Rob and I did something we’ve never done before; we left our kids with my parents and we went away for a couple of nights. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but it was momentous for us. And to be honest, it was a much needed and well-deserved trip. Now we didn’t trek across the rain forest in Costa Rica nor did we stroll down beautiful Panamanian beaches like we did in our pre-kids life together, but we managed to sneak away to Cincinnati which, to us, felt like quite a retreat. Rob and I are super parents. All right, all right — we get that all parents will say they’re super parents. So maybe we are just mediocre, but we’re...
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Right Where She’s Supposed To Be

It’s been over three weeks since Lola started school and based on the lack of posts on this blog — well let that be an indication as to how busy our family is these days. We purposefully chose not to talk about school at length over the summer as Lola doesn’t quite grasp the concept of taking a summer break. But a couple of weeks before school was scheduled to begin we started to repeat trigger words like bus, school, Mrs. Tubbs, Melissa and backpack. We wanted to help refresh Lola’s memory of school and you could see the wheels turning in her head as we began to use the words more frequently. Since Lola goes to the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI), Registration...
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Saying Goodbye to Summer

Truth: I have 1020 photos and 52 videos saved on my iPhone. I have photos dating back to the day Sebastian was born, the day he stood up on his own, the day he took his first steps, and everything in between. Most of the videos are of Lola and her quest to walk independently. Each one brings me right back to the moment and I can feel the pride in my voice over and over again. I have all of the photos and videos saved on our computer and countless other places because I have this incessant fear of losing them. And even though I know I could easily find them all, I still save them on my phone. I can’t explain why because I’m not quite...
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Fitting in at CampAbility

Dear Easter Seals CampAbility Staff, From the moment we walked in the classroom, I knew our daughter would be in good hands. Before I could even muster up a “hello”, several of you introduced yourselves and acknowledged Lola. I tried to think of how you would know who she was because you had never met her, but the intake process for attending camp was so extensive that I’m sure you saw her picture. You probably knew her likes, her dislikes, her food preferences, and even her rare genetic condition, NR2F1, along with all its symptoms. I would guess that you knew she had limited speech, a complex visual impairment as well as epilepsy. I’m sure you were educated and prepared to give her the rescue medication if, God...
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To The Hairdresser Who Changed How People Saw My Child With Special Needs

Dear Hairdresser Who Sang To My Kid, I should know your name. I can’t believe I don’t. I was so busy trying to corral my two children, pay for their haircuts and maintain my sanity. I remembered to profusely thank you and I could have very well asked your name. In fact, I’m sure I did, but that important detail has faded. Unfortunately what I do remember is that people were staring at us prior to you calling my daughter, Lola, back. I remember my face feeling flush. I remember thinking the outing was a bad idea when Lola began to run in places she wasn’t supposed to, grabbed at things she shouldn’t have, and I remember the piercing scream she belted out when I tried to redirect...
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A Letter To My Mom

Dear Mom, Your month long visit has come and gone. I’m sitting here looking through photos from your stay and they remind me of all the little adventures we went on. It’s funny because most children would cringe with the thought of their mother staying at their house for a long period of time, but we welcome it…in fact, we look forward to it. When you come back, you just fit in again. Six months can go by between visits and yet, you just know how to fill in the gaps. At times I feel guilty because you help out so much (just the other morning I was yelling at you to stop doing the dishes), but I have to remember that you wouldn’t do anything you didn’t...
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‘Progressing’

Try to do a blog post today. Most days I think it, but I rarely follow through. It’s not because I’m not dedicated to Say Hola Lola, it’s just that my free moments are few and far between these days. Anyone with young children knows this to be true. For those that would like continuous Lola updates, I’d recommend following Say Hola Lola on Facebook or on Instagram. It’s hard to believe Lola has completed her first full year of school (she started halfway through last year). On her final day of school, I sobbed like a baby throughout the entire day. I couldn’t articulate into words where the tears were coming from, I just knew I was proud. I watched the video of Lola walking to the...
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Is Our Marriage Different Because We Have a Child With Special Needs?

I’ve read blog posts about how the dynamics of a marriage change when you have a special needs child and it made me wonder: Is the marriage between Rob and me any different because we have a child with special needs? As you can see from the bio on my website, Rob and I fell in love fast. As he wrote, “It was quick. It was breathless.” And that’s the absolute truth. We knew we were committed to one another before we even knew each other’s quirks, habits or deep dark secrets. People often told us we would have beautiful babies and in my heart, I believed that to be true. And they were right–we brought two spectacular human beings into this world. Our daughter, Lola, who happens...
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“Mamma Said There’ll Be Days Like This”

Do you ever get the most obscure song stuck in your head and you’re not sure where it came from, why it’s there or when it will go away? Thanks to the podcast, Radiolab, I learned these songs are called earworms. A couple of weeks ago, Lola had a two day video EEG (VEEG) at Riley Hospital for Children. And the days leading up to the VEEG, I had the song, “Mamma Said There’ll Be Days Like This”, stuck in my head and on repeat. It lingered all day, every day. As I prepared breakfast for the kids, as I got ready for work, when I was at work, when I was driving, when I came home…you get the point. It was strange and annoying. I was frustrated...
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Epilepsy Awareness #purpleforlola

On March 26th, we participated in an epilepsy awareness effort called Purple Day. Purple Day began in 2008 when a girl named Cassidy Megan had an idea to wear purple in an effort to raise awareness about epilepsy. Megan had struggled with epilepsy herself which is why she wanted to educate people about epilepsy, she hoped to debunk epilepsy myths and she simply wanted to start a conversation about epilepsy. It started out as a grassroots movement, but quickly turned into an international day of epilepsy recognition. Since epilepsy affects Lola’s life, we wanted to participate and we were blown away by the overwhelming amount of support we received! Friends, family and strangers from all over the country (and in Costa Rica!) wore their purple to help spread...
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How an NHL Hockey Coach Helped Me Through a Tough Special Needs Parenting Moment

A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Rob and I were reading books with our kids, Lola and Sebastian. Sebastian is enthralled with books. He could read and reread the same book 50 times a day if we let him. He also likes puzzles, shape sorting, stacking blocks and other forms of play that require complex fine motors skills — fine motor skills Lola hasn’t quite mastered yet. On that Sunday, I sat and watched Lola try to like the book reading too. She soon moved on to the toy piggy bank. And I watched as she struggled to get the fake coin in the piggy bank. I could see the frustration as she tried repeatedly to get that darn coin to go in. She finally gave up...
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Finding Her Person

For most of us, some of our fondest memories are ones we have shared with our friends. At an early age, we are placed in situations that enable us to make friends. Play dates, Mommy & Me classes, going to a daycare and eventually school. These are all ways we are encouraged to go out and be social amongst others. As parents, we will go on to teach our children about the importance of friendship because we know having good friends is vital to the soul. After Lola was born and before the rollercoaster of health issues came to fruition, I sought out a group of women who had babies. It was a way for my daughter to begin socializing and it was key to maintaining my sanity...
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Sibling Rivalry is Driving Mom Crazy

Can I be honest with you? Yesterday may have been one of my worst days as a mom ever. Yep. Ever. What is it that makes some days tolerable and other days quite the opposite — dare I say abhorrent? But yesterday was just one of those days where I could do no right as a mom. Sebastian could have been a third walking leg as he never once let me go. Lola was upset that Sebastian was attached to me. Her inability to verbalize her unhappiness made her throw even louder tantrums. Her tantrums made Sebastian scream even louder. Those screams made me want to scream, but instead all I could do was just sob and pray that the day would end soon. I’m thankful I have...
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Happy Birthday Sebastian!

Dear Sebastian, It was one year ago today you graced us with your unbelievable presence. We should have known you were going to be a force of nature just by the way you came into the world. You were quite happy in mommy’s belly and you were showing no signs of coming out by the time mommy’s due date came around. Four days later, the doctor thought it would be safest for mommy to be induced so you would be born. But you had your own agenda buddy. I didn’t need to be induced because you began to come on your own, right after we checked into the hospital. And then when you were finally being born, you actually got stuck! Now I had been a mom to...
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Happy Birthday Lola!

Image Credit Dear Lola, Today, my darling sweet girl, you are four years old. Four years ago, you came into this world with your own agenda — to make it a better place. And you’ve done just that. You inspire strangers and impress everyone who knows you. You have been handed challenges, but the way you gracefully navigate through them without fuss make your challenges seem unimportant. You are a fighter. Your ability to persevere even when life knocks you down is a trait you developed on your own. I wish I could take credit for this, but lord knows Mommy isn’t as strong as you baby girl. But you make me stronger each and every day. You help me realize spontaneity is an unappreciated characteristic of life....
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NR2F1

NR2F1. This combination of five letters and numbers meant absolutely nothing to me until a few weeks ago. Now those five letters and numbers have given us the answer to, “Why Lola?” They are the sole reason why the course of Lola’s life changed so drastically. They are the letters and numbers making up a long awaited diagnosis. When I first received the call from neurology informing me a diagnosis had been found, I was elated. I quickly called Rob, my mom, sent out texts, posted on Facebook and Instagram. I was ecstatic. We finally knew what exactly we were up against. The main symptoms were optic atrophy (Lola has CVI and small optic nerves) and intellectual disability (she is globally delayed). We would have to keep an...
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If You Have a Child, Please Watch These Videos

Today I’m sitting here on the couch with Lola sprawled out across me. She’s home sick for the second day in a row due to the annual ‘flumageddon’ virus. She gets it every year and this year is clearly no different. While I’m sad she isn’t feeling good, I’m elated with one important aspect of her illness — she hasn’t had any seizures. For most epilepsy sufferers there are underlying causes that can trigger seizures. For Lola they are generally illness (fever or not), physical or cognitive developmental leaps, overexcitement, weight gain, and excessive tiredness. Yesterday marked one week since Lola has had a seizure. While I celebrate this one week seizure free milestone, I am especially hopeful the medicine increase is working because little lady is pretty...
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And Just Like That

Its been two days since I posted about Lola’s one month seizure free milestone and as I said before, you just never know when a seizure will emerge. This morning just happened to be that day. Something seemed off about Lola this morning. She was unusually cranky, her vision was erratic (running into tables, large chairs, etc), she was extra mean to her brother and she was moaning/crying non-stop. This is a day when communication with words would have been stellar. We had no idea what was wrong. I hear parents complain that their kid talks too much and I want to punch them in the face. Too harsh? But seriously, I would have given anything for my daughter to have been able to articulate her frustrations this...
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Where We’re at Today With Epilepsy

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month and for as much as epilepsy has impacted our family, you’d think I could easily write about it. Yet I’m sitting here with a blank screen. I wouldn’t really call it writer’s block since I only show up on this blog every now and then. I think it’s because I try so hard to go on as if epilepsy isn’t part of our life. Like if I don’t acknowledge its presence that maybe it will simply go away. But that’s not fair to Lola and it’s not fair to the readers of this blog. So lets talk about epilepsy and what it means to my family. Today Lola is one month seizure free. This is exciting yet I’m hesitant to share this...
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I Lied About Being Able to Relax

“What do you do to relax and how do you know once you’ve achieved relaxation?” Simple question, right? I was sitting in a circle with maybe a dozen other people. All of us parents of children who have vision impairments among other ‘different-abilities’. For once, I didn’t feel vulnerable sharing pieces of me that I tend to tuck away until the time is right. We were all together for the annual Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) Family Retreat in Louisville, Kentucky. Lola was over at the Respite Camp and I was excited to be working at the Retreat as a VIPS employee. And while I am indeed an employee, I still and will always be a VIPS mom. Just as the other parents and caregivers in attendance, I’m...
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Oh Life, Please Settle Down

Well, I started this post last week and then every kid disease and ailment took over my house. Lola was sick and it turned out it was Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease. I think Rob and I had it last weekend and of course Sebastian got it too. Aggghhh!! I didn’t even know what the heck HFMD was until I learned about the epidemic it has become in Indiana this year. Plus Sebastian is teething. And then throw Lola’s epilepsy on top of all of it. Well, it’s been just an epic couple of weeks in the Howell house. I should be doing nice things for myself in this downtime, but I think I’ll go and disinfect my house, my mind and my soul from all of this crap...
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Today’s Silence Comes With an Unfair Price

Something strange and wonderful is happening in my house right now. I’m sitting here sipping my coffee while trying to organize all of the thoughts in my head. I hear the whisper of the fan, I hear the rhythmic pattern of the washer and I can even hear the rumbling of my stomach telling me to go eat breakfast. What is missing this morning is the usual chaotic noise that is generally found in my home. There are no kids laughing or crying, the dogs aren’t barking because they are being attacked by Lola or Sebastian (OK – mostly Lola) and the TV isn’t displaying its normal morning show — Curious George. Instead I’m sitting here alone and in silence. I should say that I’m missing all of...
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What Life Means Today

Some years ago, this blog began as a way to stay connected with family and friends while Rob and I embraced our new life in Costa Rica — it was actually called Live Love Travel Souls. I then became pregnant with Lola so I thought I’d blog about the healthcare system in Costa Rica and raising a baby in a foreign country. And then over a course of time, life changed drastically when Lola was diagnosed with infantile spasms (a rare form of epilepsy), cortical visual impairment and global developmental delays. The blog morphed into Say Hola Lola. When Lola began to have seizures, countless medical appointments, endless diagnostic testing, a daily regime of medication and therapies to help her get strong both physically and mentally, I scoured...
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Embracing Me

After I gave birth to Lola, my body went right back to the way it was before I was pregnant. Shockingly, I didn’t have to work extra hard at getting rid of the baby fat–it just sort of went away. I considered myself lucky and never thought twice about it. As many of you know, Sebastian came out enormous for my 5’3″ body. He was 10 1/2 lbs which would explain why I felt so huge throughout my entire pregnancy. I was naive to think my body would quickly slim up like it had after Lola. I quickly realized Sebastian’s presence in my body would leave a permanent reminder that I once housed a child. The stretch marks, the flabby belly and the inability to yet fit in...
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A Smashing Success!

On Sunday, May 18th, Visually Impaired Preschool Services of Indiana (VIPS) joined 20 other area nonprofits at the Walking for Dreams 5K in downtown Indianapolis. The underlying theme of the event is “to help others help themselves” and that’s exactly what VIPS did on Sunday. With 98 walkers from Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan, VIPS raised over $8800! These are staggering numbers given it was VIPS’ first year at the event. I am pleased to share that Team Lola raised over $2000 for VIPS on Sunday! We received countless donations from family members, friends and people who heard about Lola’s story and wanted to help. I probably annoyed most everyone on Facebook as social media is the easiest way to get the message out, but I kept reiterating how...
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Lil’ Melon Baby Knee Pads Giveaway!

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Lola, my maternal instincts quickly kicked in. My new job in life–to protect. I watched the types of food I ate, I didn’t allow myself to be around smoke, I didn’t take any medications that weren’t prescribed, I did everything in my power to protect my growing child. That’s what we do as parents, right? We love, we nourish, we care for and we protect our children. That need to protect has evolved into various forms. When Lola began to roll, I made sure she was never close to an edge. When she began to eat solids, I made sure her bites were small enough so she didn’t choke. When she began to crawl, I began to baby-proof...
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Walking for Dreams – 2014

On Sunday, May 18th, Visually Impaired Preschool Services of Indiana will join 21 other Indiana non-profit organizations in the Walking for Dreams 5K Family & Pet Walk. Walking for Dreams started in 2004 to help local non-profit agencies that benefit children and families. The event is sponsored by the Sycamore Foundation whose mission is to help enhance area non-profits effectiveness throughout their communities. If you remember, we walked a couple of years ago for the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation. I was impressed with the event and I loved the concept which is why I thought VIPS would be a perfect fit. It would help raise awareness that VIPS is here in Indiana which could mean more blind and visually impaired children would get the early intervention services they...
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Hi – We’re Here

I realize it has been a few weeks since my last blog post and my only explanation to that is I have a young infant who loves his mama and a little girl who has found a freedom like she never knew. I see these blogging mothers who raise families, some work, in pictures their houses look clean and tidy and yet they still find time to create these amazing blogs. I can’t quite figure out how they do it all. I thought I would have plenty of time to dedicate to this blog after I had Sebastian. Lola would be in school, Sebastian would be an infant and I would spend parts of my day listening to music and writing my little heart out. I find that...
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How I Won My Daughter Back

Last week Lola was on spring break from the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI). I’ll be truthful and say I was not exactly thrilled with the idea of having both Lola and Sebastian home with me all day. I sort of lucked out when I had Sebastian because Lola was starting school that very same week. It was perfect timing actually. Lola would be at school for almost eight hours and that would give me uninterrupted time to bond with Sebastian. Remember, Lola wasn’t too keen on Sebastian’s arrival nor was she interested in sharing her mommy. In fact, she began to shun me in preference of her father. My heart was broken, but I was determined to win her love back and shockingly...
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The Elephant in the Room

Does Sebastian have the same genetic condition as Lola? Many wonder, but most won’t ask and I get it, I probably wouldn’t ask either. You don’t want to offend us by inquiring, but you’re curious and I would be too. We knew it was a possibility even before Sebastian was conceived and it was a thought in the very back of my mind when I was pregnant. But as of right now, we have no reason to believe Sebastian was affected by the same genetic condition as Lola. Heck, we don’t even know what that genetic condition really is, but he seems to be typically developing. He is still quite young, but thinking back to when Lola was his age – well there were plenty of signs that...
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In Case You Missed the Big News…

I had planned to write this elaborate post about how amazing Lola is doing with her walking, but I have a little baby boy (two months today!) who is wanting to be near his mama. And today I’m choosing to embrace his need to be close because time is indeed flying by. I don’t want to be that mom who wishes she had put down the technology in order to be more present in her life. I want to be an active part of it. So I’ll simply let you see for yourself how well Lola is walking… I literally watch these videos several times a day. I’m so proud of our daughter and all of the hard work she has put in to achieve this incredible milestone....
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My Kid Hates Me

When Rob and I decided to have another baby, I never once thought I’d be sacrificing one child relationship for the other, but unfortunately that’s where we’re at these days. Lola loves her father and she loathes me. I get it. I mean we brought in this new “thing” as she sees Sebastian. He cries, he steals attention, it appears he always gets what he wants and worst of all…he’s not going away. In the beginning days of Sebastian’s arrival, Lola was very curious about him. She was interested in where he was, she would dissect him as if he was an alien, but she was loving in her own way even trying to kiss him on occasion. When she would hear him cry she would begin to...
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A Long Lola Update

It has been just over a month since Lola began attending the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI) and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the progress we are seeing in our little girl. Prior to attending ISBVI, Lola had been in a three day a week, couple hour a day program. While she was learning in that type of environment, we could tell she was craving more stimulation which is why we chose ISBVI. Lola attends the school five days a week for the entire day alongside four other kiddos in her class. She is in a play-based classroom yet there is also structured learning. They focus on Lola’s abilities not her disabilities which means the classroom setting is challenging but not overwhelming for...
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Bringing Sebastian into the World

×This is a day late as life just became too busy to get it published. Exactly one month ago today, Rob and I dropped Lola off at the sitters and told her she’d be a big sister soon. We kissed her goodbye and as we left tears returned to my already flooded eyes. I was just a couple days shy of being 41 weeks pregnant and per my doctor’s advice (for reasons I’m choosing to remain private about), I was going to induce labor. The decision had been made the day prior and for some reason, it wasn’t sitting well with me. While it was ultimately my choice, the thought of forcing our unborn child into the world made me feel somewhat guilty. I pictured our child all...
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We Have a Son!

Sebastian Edward Howell was born on January 10th, 2014 weighing 10 lbs 6 oz (yes…you read that correctly!) and measuring 22 inches in length. We are over the moon with happiness and couldn’t be more grateful to have Sebastian in our lives. Lola is slowly beginning to warm up to him although she doesn’t really seem to care whether he is around or not. She likes to call him Bubba and on occasion she’ll lean in and give him kisses yet this is usually followed by an attempted grab at his face. The terms “touch nice” are currently the most used phrase of the Howell household. I would love to share more, but I’m going to relish in these amazingly precious moments with my family. I’ll be back...
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A Simple Kind of Day

Just like Christmas and New Year’s, Lola’s birthday was simple, quiet (until the sugar kicked in) and low-key. While I always envisioned throwing over-the-top birthday bashes for my kids – in which I’m sure I will someday – I want them to learn birthdays are about celebrating life and reflecting upon another year of achievements. The status quo seems to be “bigger is better”, but we prefer simplistic and meaningful and that’s precisely what Lola’s birthday was this year. Sure she received presents and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ ten thousand times and she ate an ungodly amount of sugar, but more than all of that, we showered her with kisses, hugs and so much love. Maybe as she gets older she’ll prefer to have an MTV-style Sweet Sixteen...
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Happy Birthday Lola!

Dear Baby Lola, I suppose it is inappropriate to continue to call you baby Lola as you are turning three years old today. OK, I’ll be cliché and say you’ll always be my baby, but – in truth – you are becoming a big girl. And not just figuratively either. Your father was holding you in the cradle position the other night and realized you were sprawling out of his arms with your length. How did you get to be so big so fast? It’s hard to imagine you’ve been in our lives three years already yet it’s hard to imagine a life before you. And now here you are just days away from going to school full-time. When I heard your bus schedule this week, my heart...
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A Look Back

And just like that another year has passed. I have no complaints about 2013 as it was a good year to our little family. In truth, no year should ever be banished as a “bad year” because with all the bad always comes good. Experiences are learned from, lessons are always taught, tears may be shed but laughter is never far behind. If motherhood has taught me one thing, it’s that you can’t control everything. You can only do your best to cherish the good moments and blossom with knowledge and strength through the challenges. It may have taken an incredibly special little girl to help teach me this – and believe me, I’m still a work in progress – but I’m trying and I’ll keep reflecting on...
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